Tuesday 17 September 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

McDowell plays down role in severe abortion law plan

Former Attorney General Michael McDowell. Photo: Tom Burke
Former Attorney General Michael McDowell. Photo: Tom Burke

Shona Murray

Former attorney general Michael McDowell denies he was in favour of introducing more severe anti-abortion laws during the last referendum on the substantive issue.

In 2002, the then Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats government proposed further tightening of the abortion regime, but the referendum failed.

The proposed legislation would have removed the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion to save a woman's life.

Mr McDowell, the then AG, was described by RTÉ as "the author of the government's proposals". But he now says his personal views on abortion were different to his role as legal adviser to the government.

Mr McDowell didn't reveal how he voted in 2002, saying it is a "private matter".

"The AG has no personal say in whether a constitutional proposal is put to the people. It is a matter for the government," he said.

Yet at the time, Mr McDowell took to the airwaves to urge support for the referendum.

"The first thing I would ask people to do is to read the legislation," he said in 2002.

A leaflet from the pro-life campaign back then called for an end to doctors' ability to intervene through abortion to save a woman's life if she was suicidal.

It says "abortion itself is a significant risk factor for suicide".

Mr McDowell is now publicly in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment "because we cannot do justice to Irish girls and women as long as it remains part of our Constitution".

Irish Independent

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